Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Short play that's big on quality

Earth and Sky

Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield


DOUGLAS POST'S short play was added to the Highbury season as something of an afterthought. All I can say is that if the patrons now need an afterthought to decide to go and see it, they should act on it.

Richard Tye's production is excellent. Emma Garnett's clever tumble-down set is splendidly lit by Greg Pegg and Andy Wilkes and Ed Bramall has sorted the music that matches the action. The action, moreover, comes a-plenty.

Admittedly, apart from the fact that the girl at the centre of it all is a librarian and poet, and Dylan Thomas is quoted at one point, I don't understand why the publicity called it a poetic thriller – but this does not matter, because the thrills are certainly here and the story comes with some clever and unexpected twists in what is a drama in only one-act.

Suzy Donnelly comes confidently and alertly to her responsibilities as Sara, the happy young woman whose problems begin when she meets a likeable stranger who owns a restaurant. This is a dauntingly big role, but it is one that she meets without putting a syllable wrong. Similarly, Richard Ham, as David Ames, is engagingly personable.


Indeed, this is a company completely reliable in the face of the demands placed upon it. Daniel Payne (Detective Weber) and Christian Lewis (Detective Kersnowski) turn up to investigate The Case of the Body in the Garbage Bin and are thereafter required to concentrate on clue-gathering – which is fortunate for us, because both are clearly utterly at home in the unprepossessing area of Chicago which is the setting for the story, and their accents make compulsive listening.

Callum Robertson is Billy Hart, the likeable but somewhat pugnacious bartender who engages Sara in a conversation about money, during which she drinks a bottle of spirits and he has clearly not been invited to suggest that she might pay for it. Bhupinder Kaur Dhamu is Marie, the restaurant cashier, with John Brenan as the mysterious Eisenstadt and Nigel Higgs the baddie who turns up late-on to heart-thumping effect.

It is left to Christina Peake, as Joyce Lazio, to ensure that the thumps move suddenly into overdrive as she provides the climax towards which the evening has been remorselessly heading.

It's first-class stuff all round. Highbury should be packed to the gunwales for the rest of its short run. To 17.7.10.

John Slim

0121 373 2761 (see website for times) 


Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate